It seems that government backing has helped to ramp up fracking planning as applications have risen. Ken Cronin, chief executive of UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) has announced that he has “seen a significant increase in applications happening around the UK over the course of the last two or three months”.
David Cameron has made no secret of his desire to promote fracking in spite of public concern for the impact on the environment. The government have even smoothed over the planning process with fast-track applications to stop certain councils from continuously vetoing plans.
“We respect the planning process. The Government has been clear that we think shale has got huge potential and presents us with an opportunity to develop a new energy resource and create jobs. We will continue to look at how we can develop this industry in the UK.”
Cronin explained that many more projects will be going through the pre-consultation process and into planning in the coming months.
“We are now starting to understand as a country that we need the gas and that the gas should come from the UK, and I think you’re seeing operators starting to put applications in.
I think that the moral, economic and environmental arguments for taking shale gas in the UK is quite strong. That’s the reason why I think that the government, alongside all of their other policies, are taking shale gas seriously.”
While the government are right behind shale exploration, they face serious opposition from our celtic neighbours. Both Scotland and Northern Ireland have placed a moratorium on fracking and shale exploration, with a view to crack down further.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) are pushing for a complete ban on fracking and to “consider extending the current moratorium on ‘fracking’ to include the technologies used in underground coal gasification and unconventional gas extraction.”
SNP energy spokesman Callum McCaig frowned upon the ‘gung-ho approach’ from the government saying:
“We may have come to expect this incoherent, illogical and piecemeal approach to devolution from Westminster but, frankly, it’s just not good enough.”
It looks like the SNP may have an ally in the Labour party once again as new leader Jeremy Corbyn is also vehemently anti-fracking. The shadow energy committee have plans to pursue clean energy development in the UK, after it was announced that we now import 50% of natural gas.
While we all understand the need for a reliable, home-grown energy supply with low carbon implications, the battle between the Tories and Labour continues with fracking and nuclear facing wind and solar as possible solutions.
None of the options are popular with everyone. Nuclear has proven lucrative but it still holds environment risks and massive construction costs, wind has raised concerns over visual impact on the environment and development costs while fracking has been blamed for polluting groundwater and causing earthquakes.
Will the public still show concern over the environment when their energy prices rocket as imports continue?